Nuisance abatement suit targets Hakalau house

  • Tribune-Herald photo Police filed a civil nuisance abatement lawsuit against occupants of this Kulaiwi Road home in Hakalau, alleging drug activity on the property ‘are offenses against public health and morals’ and seeking a temporary injunction seeking to prohibit the defendants from residing at or entering the property.

Hawaii County Prosecutor Mitch Roth filed a civil complaint against a Hakalau homeowner and others allegedly living in the home, claiming occupants are operating a drug house on the property.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in Hilo Circuit Court, names as defendants Carol Bento, who’s listed as the home’s owner on the county real property tax office website; Stanley Bento Jr.; Laura Wells; Verna Young; and “John Does” and “Jane Does.”

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The filing seeks an order of abatement “permanently prohibiting” the defendants or any person acting in concert with them “from residing in or entering into the building, premises or place in … which the nuisance exists.”

The suit claims that from Dec. 4, 2015, to present, the defendants “have maintained, facilitated, permitted or engaged in the offenses of promoting dangerous and/or detrimental drugs” at the property at 29-184 Kulaiwi Road.

The complaint further states the alleged offenses “are offenses against public health and morals, and are therefore nuisances subject to abatement.”

Stanley Bento Jr., 56, has two convictions each for promoting a dangerous drug and drug paraphernalia, plus felony theft and theft of copper convictions, according to court records.

Wells in 2007 pleaded guilty to securing the proceeds of an offense, a Class C felony, and was sentenced to a year in jail. She originally was indicted for promoting prison contraband in that case.

A search of court records found no criminal convictions for Young or Carol Bento, Stanley Bento’s 87-year-old mother.

Roth prosecuted a number of successful civil nuisance abatement cases in the past, alleging occupants in certain dwellings presented a hazard to public health, safety and morals, usually relating to drug sales or drug use on the properties.

In November 2012, Hilo Circuit Judge Glenn Hara, who’s since retired, ordered two individuals — Dorbert Correa and Malia Arakaki — to leave a house at 1068 Kaumana Drive in Hilo owned by a Correa family trust. Roth at the time told the judge Dorbert Correa “is known to be a high-level methamphetamine distributor.”

Correa was sentenced in 2016 to 10 years in prison after being found in possession of about 12 ounces of methamphetamine while on prison furlough for previous drug and firearm offenses.

He remains in custody at Waiawa Correctional Facility on Oahu, with a scheduled release date of Nov. 25, 2026, according to the state Department of Public Safety website.

The county’s corporation counsel also has a pending nuisance abatement suit against Puakea Ranch, a vacation rental ranch in Hawi, following more than two years of neighbor complaints about weddings, concerts and events being hosted there without a permit.

That suit seeks more than $197,000 in back fines.

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There have been no hearings scheduled on the Puakea suit, which was filed Nov. 30 in Kona Circuit Court.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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